What do pro athletes and coaches like former Miami Dolphins Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas and Joe Philbin, and Olympics tennis champ Jennifer Capriati have in common with Backstreet Boys’ singer Howie Dorough?
These Florida bold-face names are all victims of identity theft perpetrated by a Seminole County man, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.
Michael Watters, 48, was arrested Sunday and charged with 22 counts of fraud for using the identification of another person without consent, according to court records. Bond has been set at $10,000 per charge, or $220,000.
Watters, deputies say, wrote and cashed fake checks from these celebrities and others, including retired Major League Baseball players Johnny Damon, Barry Larkin and Jonathan Papelbon and former Orlando Magic head coach Scott Skiles.
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Also victims: Orlando-area lawyer John Morgan, WFTV 9 reported, and Broward County Property Appraiser Marty Kiar, who was dumbfounded that he wound up linked with the pro athletes and the pop star, reported the Sun Sentinel.
“I think he probably made a mistake. I’m definitely not in a league with those folks,” Kiar told the Sentinel.
“This is another clear case of identify theft and it shows us no one is immune,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Danny Banks told WFTV.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that the investigation began in 2015 when Watters was found in a car with his girlfriend in a Home Depot parking lot in Altamonte Springs. Officers became suspicious when they saw her doing drugs in the car and Watters gave officers a false name.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Watters used driver’s license numbers and birthdates of the athletes, pop star and regular folks to write fraudulent checks. After he used these checks to get thousands in goods and services investigators say he returned the merchandise for cash refunds.
The Backstreet Boys’ Dorough, 44, who has been a part of the boy band from its launch in Orlando in 1993, became suspicious when collection companies kept calling, WFTV reported.